Borland looks to take on Visual Studio with Diamondback

Borland Software Corp., with the planned Diamondback release of its Delphi tool for Windows applications, is looking to take on Microsoft Corp. while accommodating .Net, Win32 and Delphi development, the company announced at its BorCon conference in San Jose, Calif., last month.

Borland expects Diamondback to compete with Microsoft’s Visual Studio tool, said Michael Swindell, Borland director of product management for developer tools. He cited productivity improvements in touting the tool’s strengths. “You’ll be faster and more productive in Diamondback, that’s what our goal is,” Swindell said.

Diamondback is in a limited beta release now, with no general availability timeframe being revealed yet by Borland. The product combines development on the Win32, Delphi and .Net platforms, accommodating legacy Windows and new application development, according to Swindell.

“We have a lot of developers moving to .Net but a lot of our developers are not completely there yet,” Swindell said. “They still have a lot of life left in their Win32 applications.”

Developers can add features and quality to existing applications while also moving to .Net, he said. By supporting ASP.Net, Diamondback enables developers to take advantage of Microsoft’s managed code concepts for secure, manageable code, Swindell noted. With Diamondback, users do not need separate development environments for C# and Delphi, Swindell said. “All of the team members can share the Delphi environment,” he said.

A host of other improvements also await Diamondback users. “Our goal was to really make developers’ daily lives easier, better, faster,” Swindell said.

Code re-factoring enables users to make global, cascading changes to code. Developers, for example, can rename an object once and it is reflected throughout the source code. “Code re-factoring helps (developers) maintain their source code, whether it is writing their new applications or maintaining their existing code,” said Swindell.

A conference attendee was curious about the time-saving possibilities of code re-factoring. “That’s amazing, to be honest,” said Johan Vorster, a software developer at Tower Systems International, a Melbourne, Australia developer of point-of-sale systems.

The code editor in Diamondback has been improved to flag errors on the fly. Code re-factoring will correct errors as well, Swindell said.

Additionally, Diamondback is fused with Borland’s StarTeam project management system, with a StarTeam client embedded within the Diamondback IDE. “(Users will) be able to monitor and enter change requests,” and compare different versions of code to reject or accept changes, Swindell said.

Unit testing in Diamondback enables creation of tests for developers to use on their code. “That’s very useful as a developer, just for testing my own code, just for building better quality code. But it’s also very useful for handing off (the code) to a formal testing environment,” Swindell said.

Diamondback’s history manager automates backups of developer files, so code is not lost. ADO.Net, which is Microsoft’s .Net framework for database connectivity, has been encapsulated within the rapid application development layer in Diamondback, enabling use of different types of databases and easier building of multi-tier database applications, said Swindell. Also, data migration, for moving data between different databases, is built into Diamondback.

Web development in Diamondback is being improved to enable developers to deliver video or audio onto a Web page. The more scalable ECO II Model Powered Framework is featured in Diamondback. ECO stands for Enterprise Core Objects and it provides a model-driven architecture for .Net, in which applications are diagrammed and objects are created automatically.

“The benefit is that we can build applications with ECO much faster and they’re very highly maintainable with far less code,” Swindell said. ECO in Diamondback features a multi-tier architecture and provides application server-like functionality for .Net.

Earlier in the day at BorCon, Microsoft’s Rick LaPlante, general manager of the Visual Studio Team System, touted May 2004 research figures that he said show that Microsoft’s .Net is becoming the primary development platform in 56 per cent of shops as opposed to 44 per cent for the rival Java J2EE platform. A Sun Microsystems representative contacted afterward countered with other research that says Java will continue to lead over .Net in IT shops.

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